The digital revolution has forever changed the world of graphics. But that doesn’t mean that we should forget about tried and true printing processes, such as screen printing. There was a time when screen printing was our best friend. And it still has a lot of uses. In some cases it is more cost effective than digital, sometimes it’s more durable than digital, and other times it is more practical. Here’s why:
- Volume—Large runs of identical graphics can often be printed less expensively by using old-fashioned screen printing techniques than digital processes. Generally speaking, the more colors a print run has, the more competitive a digital price will be. But the larger the volume of the run, the more competitive screen printing becomes.
- Quality—Under certain circumstances, the quality of screen printing is higher than digital. This applies especially in cases where the printing must be direct to substrate. Small text and fine-line illustrations are good examples of screen printing’s strong points. Photographs, however, are usually better with a digital print.
- Practicality—Flatbed direct digital printing also is limited by size in what it can print onto. The object must fit on print bed and under the gantry—eliminating some specialty work with large and/or high-profile objects. Screen-printing even works on unusual shapes like bottles. With special jigs or printing equipment, almost anything is possible in the world of screen printing.
- Appearance—Screen printing has its own unique look. While digital provides a smooth, consistent look of perfection, screen printing has a “real life” look and feel to it. The natural textures of paint on substrate combined with the rich, pure tones of screen ink make for a unique appearance in the digital era.
- Durability—Sometimes “tough” is what is needed, and screen printing can fill the bill. Screen printing inks are a relatively inexpensive and, unlike digital printing inks, changing ink types is not an issue. There are many types of specialty inks, including rock-hard, multi-part epoxies. Because the inks are formulated to work with individual substrates, they can adhere much more permanently than digital inks to many tricky uncoated surfaces